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Facial paralysis during air travel: case series and literature review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2012

K L Ah-See
Affiliation:
College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, UK
M Shakeel
Affiliation:
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
S K Maini*
Affiliation:
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
S S M Hussain
Affiliation:
ENT Department, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, Scotland, UK
*
Address for correspondence: Miss S K Maini, Consultant Otolaryngologist, Ward 45, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, Scotland, UK Fax: +44 (0)1224 554 569 E-mail: sangeetamaini@nhs.net

Abstract

Objective:

We report three cases of recurrent, unilateral facial palsy associated with air travel.

Method:

The three cases are presented, along with a brief literature review concerning barotrauma and its association with air travel and facial palsy.

Results:

All three patients experienced unilateral facial paralysis during air travel, accompanied by additional symptoms which varied between cases. Symptoms resolved spontaneously in all cases. Two patients received ventilation tube insertion to prevent further recurrence. Computed tomography scanning revealed no bony defect in two patients, while the third exhibited dehiscence of the facial canal which may have contributed to the condition.

Conclusion:

Available evidence suggests that eustachian tube dysfunction can contribute to increased pressure within the middle ear, leading to neuropraxia of the facial nerve. Cases of facial paralysis associated with air travel are under-reported. Since there is no evidence-based management protocol for this condition, further investigation of its pathology is encouraged in order to improve our understanding.

Type
Clinical Records
Copyright
Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2012

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References

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